When I was growing up, especially during my teen years, whenever my mom would act a certain way or enforce some rule that I always deemed irrational and or ridiculous, she’d always close with, “One day when you have your own kids you’ll understand!” And in my youth driven naiveté I’d always think, “the hell I won’t….my kid won’t have a curfew I’ll trust them enough to come home whenever they want!” Ahhhh to be young and dumb. For the record, my mom was right… as moms usually are. Better to learn that lesson young, folks. Anyway, I have my own kid now and I DO understand.
Parenting is not at all what I expected. In some ways it has been. I expected to have an increase in responsibilities- normal parental duties like feeding, changing bathing etc. I expected the strain it can have on a relationship, “No…I can’t do (fill in the blank) I’m tired and the baby has taken all of my energy!” What I didn’t expect, and I’ve expressed it before in this space, is the constant feeling that I have to protect this little being at all costs. Does this feeling ever go away? Now I get why my mom enforced a curfew, insisted that she meet the parents of whomever’s house I was going to go play at and made sure she loved me enough so I felt I could come to her with anything. What she was good at, which I think currently I am failing miserably at, is her ability to run a tight ship, while also granting just enough room to fall, make mistakes and learn the lessons.
Esther is fearless! She runs, explores and throws herself into experiences….just as she should. She’s interested in the tiny ants on the ground and then a second later looks up and notices the vastness of the sky. It is refreshing to watch as it’s an invitation for me to reacquaint myself with the beauty around us just waiting for us to notice it. But, sometimes in her boundless curiosity she runs too fast, or doesn’t look where she is going and almost falls, or almost runs into a wall or ALMOST_____. Sometimes, she does fall. The momma part- the need protect part- then wants to make sure “it” doesn’t happen ever ever again. Also, I’ll think to myself, “It’s a good thing I was there, she almost____.”
Lately, I’ve been thinking about parenting and the impact I want to have on E. I’ve realized that oftentimes, I’m being selfish. I mean that in the sense of what I’m getting out of our relationship vs. if she’s getting what she needs from me. Let me make it plain: I hover because it makes me feel needed even if it’s not necessarily fostering her growth and independence.
My baby isn’t a baby anymore. Fact. She is a card carrying toddler- ready to embrace the next step and I’m still stuck in the “she’s so tiny and needs me for everything” stage. I miss my baby sometimes. Yes, it was hard to wake up for feedings every 2 hours, but the physical contact, the snuggling afterwards and the look of satisfaction on her face was divine. The smell of her head was indescribable (you’d think someone would make a candle scent out of it already). Maybe it’s just me, but I would imagine that if you dig down deep enough- this is the root of most issues between parents and kids- the balance between letting them go yet hanging on enough to make sure they learn the lessons and you still feel somewhat needed. I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud.
Esther is craving independence. I can sense it and see it. This indeed means that yes, she will need me less. I should be proud because it means Jim and I are doing our jobs. The toddler stage has been challenging, but I’m starting to appreciate that each stage has its blessings and moments of sadness.
This morning at 5:30 I heard her say “uh oh” on the baby monitor. So, I went in to check on her and she was on her tummy in her crib trying to go back to sleep while reaching around her body to pull the covers over her butt – it was cold in her room. I swooped her up and we snuggled on the ground with a pillow and a blanket .She faced me and cradled my face with her hands and said, “momma, MOMma” and it was the sweetest f’in thing you could ever imagine. I suppose this stage has its fun/sweet/tender/ she still needs me parts too. So, there’s that.